Stevie Parle, The Goods Shed and Tom Dixon come together to create pop up perfection.

Impermanence, and the sure knowledge that a thing of great beauty is, in its essence, ephemeral constitutes, surely, the very epitome of bitter-sweetness. Its fleeting nature makes it all the more perfect and, at once, pang-inducing too; the aching understanding that what you are enjoying will soon be gone and live only in our collective memory makes us stash away that moment for treasured safekeeping later.

And so we come to Joy At Portobello, a new collaboration between the brilliant chef Stevie Parle, and one of our very favourite purveyors of exquisite food and produce, The Goods Shed, whose permanent home is in Canterbury and is such a thing of legend that, if you’ve not been, you must book for lunch immediately and make a special empty-bellied journey with alacrity. These two giants of the food world have teamed up with uber designer Tom Dixon, Stevie Parle’s long-time collaborator, to create a new pop up garden restaurant at Portobello Dock.

And, as its beautiful Instagram account attests, what a pop up it is. A fully al fresco garden affair, all produce is supplied by the Good Shed, whilst also on site is a specialist honey shop and natural wine and craft beer bottle shop. Self-described as a ‘temporary hub of food, flowers and happiness’, its terrace looks like a place we’d like to go every day of our lives for long sunny lunches, bringing a slice of Mediterranean dining to the capital. Menus change daily and are ‘hyper seasonal’, while produce is ‘spray-free’ – just how we like it. Plus, there is a dahlia garden, created by the brilliant @arthurparkinson and @NevileCaroline, using blooms that were once destined for Hampton Court Flower Show, and latterly rescued from the bin when that was cancelled and repurposed here. Heaven.

And then there’s the food itself. Did you ever see a plate as perfect as this lobster, or these clams cooked with peas? Washed down with a natural wine on a hot day – well, who needs overseas holidays? Plus, Joy at Portobello is partaking in the government’s ‘eat out to help out’ initiative until the end of this month, so now is very much the moment.

Joy At Portobello Dock, we know that your beauty is fleeting, but if we can twist your arm to stay as long as the weather allows, we’ll be forever indebted. For right now, and as long as Joy lasts: you’re our heroes.

By Nancy Alsop
August 2020


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Nancy Alsop


Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.